What are my rights?
In England, Wales and Scotland the Equality Act means it is against the law for schools to discriminate against you because you have a disability. In Northern Ireland, the Special Educational Needs and Disability (NI) Order means it is against the law for schools to discriminate against you because you have a disability.
You may not think of yourself as disabled. But epilepsy is a disability when it has a substantial and long-term effect on your day-to-day activities, or it would if you were not on treatment.
Your school must make sure you have full access to education. They have a legal obligation to support you and remove any barriers you face so you can access and take part the same way as students who do not have a disability. To do this your school must make reasonable adjustments.
Reasonable adjustments are changes your school must make so you are not at a disadvantage compared to other students who do not have a disability. They are specific to you and your needs. They could include:
- Providing different coloured paper to write on.
- Allowing extra time to respond to questions or complete work.
- Allowing regular breaks.
- Providing technology, like a laptop.
- Using different ways to record work such as video or audio recordings
Schools are legally obliged to work with you, your family or carers and any other professionals involved to agree the support you need.
Your school is responsible for making a record of what reasonable adjustments have been agreed and making sure all staff who work with you know about them.
Whether something is reasonable will depend on different things, like:
- If the adjustment is practical.
- The cost.
- Whether it will help.
- Any potential negative impact on others.
Will epilepsy affect my learning?
Different people have different experiences of how epilepsy affects them at school. Not every young person with epilepsy will experience difficulties learning. But some people may find they have more difficulty learning than students who don’t have epilepsy. Reasons for this can include:
- Seizures and the impact they have such as feeling tired or losing concentration.
- Side effects of anti-seizure medication such as a lack of energy or drowsiness.
- Other conditions such as autism or ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).
- Any underlying cause of epilepsy, such as a brain injury.
You may experience problems with:
- Listening to and understanding information and finding the right words (communication)
- Memory and concentration (cognition)
- Coordination. For example, finding it difficult to write, kick a ball or hit a ball with a bat (motor skills)
These can affect your learning. But there are lots of things your school can do to support you, including:
- Repeating and rephrasing information.
- Using visual prompts and aids.
- Providing information in chunks.
- Recapping information.
- Allowing additional time.
- Adapting tasks or activities.
If you are having difficulties speak to your teachers, family or carers. They are there to help you.
Young Epilepsy has developed the ABLE tool (Assessment of Behaviour and Learning in Epilepsy). It aims to help your teachers, parents or carers understand more about how epilepsy affects you and help them make sure you have the support you need.